Sunday, March 7, 2010

Veggie Tamale Casserole

Growing up I was weirdly jealous of other children's casseroles. I don't remember ever really having a casserole. The closest we came was an array of flavors and colors in a cast iron skillet. Is that considered a casserole? A casserole is described as a large deep serving vessel filled and baked in the oven. The idea being that you don't have to transfer the food to a different dish before serving. So mom's cast iron creations were sort of like a casserole? I was always envious of Tater Tot and Macaroni casserole, with the crushed saltines on top. Quite hilarious for me thinking about this now, I don't know why it was so interesting. So now here I am writing about casseroles and just made an awesome recipe for a Veggie Tamale Recipe. I was so excited to make a "One Pot Wonder" in my grandmother's old Swedish beans casserole dish. I started by making my polenta, while that was cooking I sautéed green and red peppers, mushrooms, onions, garlic, broccoli and jalapeno. After this was finished I layered polenta, veggie mixture and black and pinto beans and popped it in the oven. My friend Natsumi showed up to my house starving and just in time for the casserole to hit the table. I served it up with some lime cilantro coleslaw, salsa and sliced avocado. My first official casserole done and quite nice!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Eat with Chopsticks

After a night at a friends house, I found that eating with chopsticks definitely makes me eat slower and really think about every bite. It is nice to savor every morsel and not to mention recognize the complexity of flavors. Also, they come with so many pretty patterns to choose from. So there I was standing in the Asian market with a basket full of goodies. I had walked in planning to make some sort of broth- based Thai soup and left with close to that, but better, lemon grass spicy veggie rice noodle soup fix-ins. I was tantalized by the tiny key limes, giant fresh stalks of lemon grass and frugal bouquets of fresh Thai basil and mint. I was so excited to slurp up some spicy broth and tong some yummy noodles with my pretty new chopsticks. Asian clear broth based soups are usually served by placing the cooked noodles, seasoned and pan-fried tofu and steamed or stir-fried veggies in the soup bowl, then topped with the steaming broth. This makes for perfect portions of the variety of vegetables you will be using and plenty of noodles and tofu. I served this steamy soup with a condiment plate of quartered key limes, sweet crunchy peanuts and fresh basil and mint leaves. There was something amazingly comforting about this meal. Loved it! I even ate this soup cold the next day for lunch, it was really good.